Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Lifestyle

Grooming… What’s the Bare Minimum?

Grooming… What’s the Bare Minimum?

Hi there, fabulous reader!

One of the trickiest parts of my job can be a discussion with a client who needs to take his or her grooming up a notch. There are many reasons people let their attention to grooming wander. One is when our life/schedule goes haywire, for example: after a baby is born, or when we are taking care of a sick family member. I get it. In an emergency, we have other priorities. Some things fall by the wayside. Another common reason is depression. When the emergency-state grooming status becomes the norm, we may have a problem.

What Is the Bare Minimum?

Hygiene is non-negotiable! Body washed. Most of us need antiperspirant/deodorant. Hair washed and brushed. Teeth brushed. Nails clean and clipped or rounded. Moisturize your skin to keep it healthy. Sunscreen, sunscreen, SUNSCREEN! Keep stray hairs clipped. (I know these can seem overwhelming with a new baby, or when you are in high intensity caring mode. But taking the 10 minutes needed for these will help YOU feel better prepared to handle what comes your way!)

What About Makeup?

Makeup is big business. In the US in 2016, consumers spent close to 985 million dollars on foundation alone! (Data) The top 5 biggest spending cosmetics categories were: foundation, mascara, lipstick, eye liner, and powder. On those top 5, we spent more than 3.5 billion dollars. Yes, that is billion with a B. Just in the U.S. Egads! Google “makeup tutorial” in YouTube and you get more than 21 million hits… That’s not even including all the product reviews videos you can find. If I am looking to learn a new technique (or for Halloween ideas), I will look through a few ‘tutes, but most of these YouTubers are spending more time and money on makeup than I am interested in investing. When a “look” takes 25 minutes to talk through and “do”… it’s not happening for me. I didn’t even spend that long on my hair and makeup on my wedding day. I’ve been told that I am low-maintenance. (Unfortunately, as I age, maintenance seems to be taking longer and longer…)

Makeup is not a necessity. When I was a girl and wanted to start wearing makeup, I remember my mother telling me that once you start wearing mascara, you never go back. She was right. I do have no mascara days, but they are rare. I wear makeup because it makes me happy, and not because I think there is something wrong with me. I have a “more defined me” approach to makeup, and a makeup bare minimum, too.

Just as clothing has “levels of refinement”, I have three makeup levels of refinement. Play, Work, and Evening/Social would be my makeup levels. I don’t understand the full face, sculpted brows, and illumination look for every day.

Level 3: Play  Even on a bare-faced play day, I still tame my brows with a brush, slap on some powder or tinted moisturizer (depending on the season), and slick on lip balm (with a tint). If I put on a smile, the rest is just icing. A positive attitude gives you a glow that no makeup can replicate.

Level 2: Work  My husband can tell if it’s a work day, just by my face. No, not that I have a long face on a work day! I love my job! It’s just that somewhere along the line he noticed that work days = eyeliner.

Level 1: Evening/Social More polished, more finished, more defined. I tend to leave the darker lip and nail colors for evening, and if it’s a daytime event, stick with the lighter shades. Although a red lip and subtle eye are a fun daytime event look, too!

How about you? What’s your bare minimum? Or your favorite product? What don’t you leave the house without? Let’s start a conversation, and comment below…

Stay Stylish!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

 

 

 

What’s Your Style Signature?

What’s Your Style Signature?

My apologies for the squinty shot…

The fifth definition of signature on Dictionary.com is any unique, distinguishing aspect, feature, or mark.

We identify ourselves on legal documents by our written signature, and others identify us by our style signature, or signatures. Even a “flaw” can be a signature. Think about Cindy Crawford and her beauty mark. Iris Apfel’s enormous round glasses are her signature. Elton John’s specs were his signature for years, they changed constantly, but their over-the-top designs were part of him. Julia Robert’s smile is certainly a signature. Jill Chivers always wears leopard. Dolly wouldn’t be Parton without the hair. People’s signatures become so closely associated with them, that it can be hard to recognize them without their signatures. Anna Wintour equals bob haircut and sheath dresses; to imagine her in a ball cap and old Levi’s is close ti impossible.  The Queen of England is recognized the world around by her hats (and classic handbags). What might happen if she stepped out for a pint of milk in stretch pants and a hoodie?

A style signature is not defined in the negative. I never wear a skirt or dress isn’t a signature. I only wear Levi’s or a tuxedo could be. There is an always factor to a signature, which is one reason glasses or physical features are great ones. My mother’s signature is her bright red glasses. She has one pair for reading, and another for driving. I know a woman whose only shoes are Converse low-tops, AKA: Chucks. She has a variety, and they are the only shoes she wears, even under a gown. Another friend wears pearls, every day, even to the beach. Me, I love scarves. Some might consider them my signature. I certainly wear them frequently, but a better way to name my signature might be accessorized. I could choose a scarf, a pile of bracelets, or a statement necklace. I even wear jewelry or a bandanna camping or hiking. Another possible signature could be my grey hair (Pewter and pearl, please!) I can’t imagine ever coloring it again, so that qualifies. “I feel naked without X” is a good indicator of a signature.

My written signature at 55 doesn’t look anything like it did at 22. Our style signatures can evolve, too. Do you have a signature? What is it? How do you sign your style? What makes an outfit you? Please share in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

And I must add a thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link Up!

 

Occasions of Dress

Occasions of Dress

My apologies for the delayed publication of this post… I’d love to blame Technical Difficulties, but it really comes down to Operator Error.

Gone are the days where women or men had one outfit for Sunday Best, and another for the rest of the week. Now we have closets full of clothes, and people regularly complain that they don’t have what they need for the occasion at hand, whether that be a baby shower, or job interview.

One of my favorite books about fashion and style is The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish. I reread it regularly, and refer to it often. It is a book for anyone interested in the history of style and fashion in America, and the history of women in American society. In it, Linda Przybyszewski refers to a collected group of brilliant and determined academics as the Dress Doctors, who were “fashion influencers” long before the existence of social media. They believed in elevating everyday life by applying the principles of art and the occasions of dress. These multi-talented women found themselves relegated to the Home Economics departments of universities, and found a way to thrive and be taken seriously. “Home Ec” was an art, not merely a necessity. They preached that beauty can and should be found in the quotidian. After all, that’s where most of us live. The Dress Doctors considered dress to be:

one of our social duties for two reasons. First, because the world has to look at us whether it wants to or not. Second, because the world has work to do, and an inappropriately dressed individual can be distracting. These two reasons explain why “making the most of your looks is not vanity.” The effort “indicates proper self-regard and consideration of others.”

In The Lost Art of Dress, Ms. Przybyszewski outlines the Six Occasions of Dress  for older children and adults. These included: (1) School, (2) Spectator Sports and Active Sports, (3) Street, Travel, or Work, (4) Housework, (5) Afternoon Affairs or Tea, (6) After-Five or Formal Evenings. From what I see on the streets today, categories 1-4 seem to have collapsed into one for many Americans, unless they work in an office with a dress code at a level above Business Casual. Category 5 has disappeared completely for most of America, unless you count happy hour. After-Five and Formal Evenings still hold a place, albeit for most of us, very rare.

I am not the only person who has noticed that in our current culture, for many, dressing for the occasion is dead. I am called into workplaces for employee training for exactly that reason. (Or because employees are taking their work wear cues from Hollywood and Pinterest.) I have witnessed church wedding attendees in cargo shorts, logo tees, and flip-flops. (The wedding party was in full length dresses and tuxedos, so no, the wedding was not casual.) Even beach weddings with flip-flops don’t usually go to the cargo shorts and logo tees extreme.

Many blogs and articles complain about the “casualization”of American dress, and give myriad reasons for the shift to “dressing down.” Everything from ignorance of propriety, laziness, lack of discipline, the obesity epidemic, and fast fashion have all been blamed for sweatpants culture. The “high” cost of clothing is my favorite… This excuse does not come from those in the industry. Cost cannot be the reason. We buy more clothing than ever, and still spend a lower percentage of our income on clothes than we did in the 1950’s, when (after looking at lots of photos) we were certainly better dressed! More than anything, I think it reflects the infantilization of our modern American society.

Since the 1960’s and the Youthquake, maturity has taken a beating. Our culture has been chasing youth, or the illusion of youth, for more than a generation. We don’t even grow-up anymore. We “adult”. What rubbish! There are privileges that come with maturity as well as responsibilities. Why not celebrate the privileges rather than cling to immaturity. There is nothing wrong with a youthful attitude (I think it’s a necessity), but dressing like a teenager usually comes across as childish rather than youthful. Previously, one of the privileges of maturity included what you could wear. Women in their 20’s were not seen as mature enough for the elegant styles designed for a woman in her 40’s. I remember looking into my mother’s closet as a girl, and wondering when I would be old enough to wear some of her beautiful things. (Cocktail pretties, and later, a stunning silver St. John knit gown!)

For those whose parents were busy chasing an extended adolescence, and missed out on the education of what to wear when, I have taken liberties with the Dress Doctor’s 6 Occasions for our modern age. Your wardrobe needs to fit your life, so if you never attend weddings or eat out at nice restaurants because that violates some deeply held principle, don’t worry about that category! Most funerals are not planned, and shopping is the last thing you need to be doing when grieving, or supporting those that are; please make sure you at least have something that fits the Solemn Occasion category…

School/Work

School:  At one time, elementary school children, high school students, and college students all had their own styles of dress. Now, university students can be seen at class in their pajamas, and many other students attend classes dressed for athletic competition, or they look ready to clean out the garage. School is the child’s equivalent of work, and students should be dressed for it. Not necessarily shirts and ties, but in comfortable, not ready-to-roll-in-the-dirt, clothes. (Or where I live: ready-to-go-hunting clothes.) Creating a distinction between school clothes and play clothes (as in previous generations) creates a structure that supports the business that study is. When I taught in a school with uniforms, I (and other teachers!) dreaded out-of-uniform days for the attitude shift in the children. There was less respect for others, and less concentration on schoolwork. When students dress for play, they demonstrate play behavior and manners from the first bell to the last.

Work:  The same principle applies to adults and work. Unless you are a yoga instructor, or personal trainer, you don’t need to wear fitness gear all day long. I understand the appeal of athleisure, but by definition, work is not leisure, so save athleisure for non-office time. If you work from home, like I often do, and are caring for children or slipping in housework between business calls, dress in a manner that you will not find you embarrassed if a client or business associate drops by, and throw an apron over your clothes if you worry about stains. (I wear mine when having coffee because I am a mess.) Check your business dress code. If you need to make up your own, unless your job requires dirty physical labor, it is usually better to find yourself overdressed than underdressed.

Leisure/Play

Going to a game? Playing after work or on the weekend? Gardening or hitting the building supply store for work on that project? Great! Wear what works for your sport, hobby, or project. And think about where else you may choose to go. Please think twice before going to brunch after spinning at the gym. You don’t need to be marinating in your own juices for the next two hours, especially at a restaurant.

My husband and I take ballroom dance classes, so some of my leisure/play wear looks like what someone else might wear to a wedding. That fits my lifestyle, but maybe not yours. I keep a box of clothes to wear for yardwork and camping under my bed; they don’t need to take up my valuable closet real estate.

Occasions

Festive: In festive occasions, I include events such as wedding or baby showers, dinners out for celebrations, casual or daytime weddings, and other similar affairs. Often these outfits are brighter in color, or have bolder patterns than work wear, but if your workplace is more casual, you may have pieces that cross over well. A brightly colored dress, or trousers with a cheerful blouse can usually fill in the gap, especially with some added sparkle. Leave your work tote or everyday bag at home. Try something smaller and less utilitarian.

Solemn: As I mentioned above, solemn occasions are not usually planned. A court date or jury duty, funerals, or other important appointments are less of a stress if you already have something appropriate to wear. My least favorite appointment is being called to help someone buy an outfit for a funeral, even if it is a privilege to help during a difficult time. If your work wear is conservative and neutral, you probably have what you need, but if most of your clothing is leisure wear, making sure you have a neutral trouser outfit with a subdued top, or a easy to throw on (not party) dress in your closet can be an emergency lifesaver. This is the time to leave the sparkle at home, but adding a bit of subtle sheen looks like you made an effort.

If you find you need to buy a new dress for a festive or solemn occasion, and they are rare in your world, please don’t spend a fortune on your outfit. Are you really going to wear it again? If not, look at renting, or check out the consignment stores in your area. The cost per wear on party outfits is a budget buster! Spend your money where you make your money, not on a party frock!

Special Event Wear

Other events are much dressier. Does your company have a holiday cocktail party every year? Or do you have formal occasions to attend? I used to have two dresses for the military ball we would attend each year. We moved every three years, so I would just alternate years. If anyone was bothered that I wore the same dress, that wasn’t my problem. Now I don’t have any, because our life doesn’t require gala wear. Buy for the life you live. If clubwear doesn’t fit your life, then leave it behind in the store, no matter how cute that little dress is… I have a few dresses I wear for ballroom dance events, and these can cross over for cocktail parties and other (exceedingly rare) events of that type. I am looking for a new dress to wear for my son’s wedding next fall, and am hoping to find one I love that I will be able to wear again.

What categories of dress do you need for your lifestyle? Did I leave out a category that is a must for you? Please let me know in the comments below; I love to hear from you!

 

Changing Your Style

Changing Your Style

Is your style the same as it was 20 years ago? How about 10, or even just 5? My guess is that your answer is “No.” Many bloggers and style gurus talk about finding your style as if it is an inanimate object, that once found never changes. My experience has taught me that although there is usually a common thread, our style is constantly growing and changing, as we do. Sometimes I have to tell clients “It’s okay to change your style!”

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes like motherhood, or entering or changing jobs can require a evaluation of what is still working, and what you have grown out of (figuratively, not literally!) Big life events change who we are. That’s just a fact. Our lives change, our bodies change, and often our values change. Have you ever looked into your closet or a stored away box of clothing and thought “What was I thinking?” That’s a sign you have grown. Maybe you have given up a career to be a stay-at-home mom, or maybe Prince not-so-Charming has left you and the children high and dry so it is time to reclaim your corner office. These lifestyle changes will be reflected in what you buy and wear. Your personality may not be different, but the way you express it for the new roles in your life will be.

Personality and Values Changes

Frequently those lifestyle changes also bring about changes in our values and our personality. The designer label lover decides that labels aren’t nearly as important as she thought they were. Saving for WeeOne’s college education, and protecting the environment by reducing waste move up the ladder as ways to evaluate purchases. A newfound faith might prompt Miss Sex-Appeal to look for more modest cuts for tops and skirts. The young artist who was always concerned with having what her friends have grows up to realize she wants to wear what she thinks is beautiful, even if no one else sees the beauty. Comfort may become the primary driver for the woman who has triumphed over cancer, but is struggling with skin that has become hypersensitive and a body dramatically different in shape. There are no right or wrong values or personality markers that drive our clothing selection and shopping, but awareness of these indicators can make shopping and dressing from a chore into a pleasure.

The More things Change…

Often clients come to me when they feel they have “lost” their style. Their style is still there inside, but they don’t know how to express it with what is in the stores now. They had pieces they counted on, but those old faithfuls are no longer available in the shops. These women often need nothing more than a “translation service” to help them take what has always worked for them, and help them find the new equivalents to step out confidently into the world again!

Do you think your style has changed? For the better? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the LinkUp!

 

 

Jeans Everyday?

Jeans Everyday?

Good day. Whew, it’s been a wild ride. Please pardon my neglect! My mother returned home after a long hospital stay, and then we were hosting visitors for Thanksgiving. What a couple of weeks! So much so that I wore jeans every day week before last. For many people, that would be a “Yeah, duh.” moment. Why wouldn’t you wear jeans 7 days in a row when you can? Others would answer “Why would you?” Because a week of jeans doesn’t suit my personality.

Let’s Talk Personality!

I have talked previously about how your personality drives, (or should drive) what you choose to wear. (So much so that every post I have published thus far has been labeled in the category Personality. It may be time to revisit those…) Now, I realize that many people don’t wear what they would like to for work. Maybe they have a uniform, or a dress code that is the antithesis of their personal style. More about that another day… Often clients hire me when they discover that they don’t like their clothes. Frequently, they discover that their clothes are no longer “them.”

Maybe You Have Changed

Having a baby. Entering or leaving the job market. Receiving a serious diagnosis. A lifestyle shift, or a big life event. Any of these may change who we are, or how we feel about ourselves. The wardrobe of the young professional and party girl you were in your 20’s and early 30’s is dramatically different from the one you find yourself needing as a happily married young woman and new mom. The professional businesswoman has left the workplace to start her own business, and doesn’t need the suit dresses and heels that her former life required. These life changes can seem to happen overnight. You may look into your closet with nostalgia for the life you led, or frustration at the lack of options for the life you have now. If you feel like the inside of your closet doesn’t reflect (and fit!) who you are right now, it’s time for a little wardrobe therapy. You have evolved, and your wardrobe needs to as well!

Who Are You Now?

Taking some time to figure out who you are right now is a must. It may seem indulgent, or a waste of time to spend time learning who the new you is. Productivity specialists will tell you that time spent planning or strategizing saves time and money in the long run. It’s the same with your wardrobe! Start with what you have and love. Even if you don’t actually wear these pieces, they give a glimpse into your personality. If you have a closet full of yoga pants and logo tees, but your favorite pieces are a strand of your grandmother’s pearls and a pair of riding boots, you might have a personality disconnect.  Neither the yogi nor the country gentry is you, but details from both! The devil is in respecting and integrating the different parts of your personality so that when you dress, you create a balance that feels authentic.

(And Where Do You Want to Go?)

Are you are a stay-at-home mom, and plan to go back to work once the youngest is in school? That may seem like years away, but if you are a person with a low wardrobe turn-over rate (you keep items for a very long time) you should be thinking about that return to work as you buy items now. If you are buying something that won’t keep, do you want to spend on it, or would it be better to spend on a piece that will work now AND later?

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Another important inventory to take is to look at how you spend your time. How you really spend your time. Not what it looks like on Instagram or Facebook! Take a look at your calendar. A fitness coach will have a very different wardrobe than a preschool teacher. The bank teller and hospital volunteer will not have the same wardrobe needs. Take an honest look at your lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with a wardrobe full of Converses and jeans if that is what works for your lifestyle and personality. Just make sure you have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral, or meeting with a lawyer or accountant!

What Drives You?

We all have different values, and these shift in priority throughout our lives. It is important to make sure what we own still reflects the values we hold now. If comfort and modesty are your main drivers, you are not likely to be happy in a sheer tulle skirt with bare legs and booties. But that same outfit might be perfect for someone who puts comfort and modesty at the bottom of their values list.

My definition of modesty might be completely different than someone else’s. Values have both personal and cultural aspects to take into account. I remember gazing in wonder at a young woman in London. She wore a long sleeved tee, jeans, sneakers, and a headscarf. Sounds modest, right? It would have been had her clothing not been so snug that it left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She may as well have been naked, but she was covered from head to toe in fabric. That qualified as modest for her, or I expect for her parents!

For many, economics is a main driver. These shoppers should beware the false economy of the markdown. A cheap item you never wear is money wasted, no matter how low the price. Others see clothing as nothing more than a necessity to keep warm and prevent arrest. These concept driven folks are unlikely to call an Image and Wardrobe Coach, but may well have one called for them by an employer unhappy with their lack of concern!

My father used to call it navel-gazing, but time spent reflecting before shopping equals time well spent, and, frequently, money saved!

Have you been through any style changes this year? Please share in the comments below!

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of the month, and spent more than half of our married life gallivanting around the world for his job. On my walk this morning, I realized that even though we have been in the same house for 10 years now (I really feel the need to move!), we have shared 7 different homes since we wed. That is a lot of moving, and it taught me a lot, even some things about style and fashion! So here are 5 style lessons moving has taught me…

Style is Regional

People used to ask if I was stocking up on clothing before we moved so that I wouldn’t have to go shopping, especially overseas. While I would stock up on things I thought might be challenging to find (new bras, or narrow shoes), I preferred a wait and see take on style. Style is incredibly regional, even with social media and mass market retailers. I also do not like to stand out like a sore thumb/stereotypical American tourist, so I spend quite a bit of time people-watching in our new home to see what looked natural. This holds true even here in the US. What looks completely in line in New York City can look a bit harsh here in Augusta, Georgia.

Dry Cleaner/Hairdresser

Two of my priorities after finding a place to live were finding a good hairdresser and dry cleaner. This is a quality of life issue, so I would ask anyone with a good looking cut where they had their hair done, especially if their hair texture was similar to mine. Any recommendation whose name came up repeatedly would be my first choice to try.  I would also accost anyone particularly well dressed to ask what dry cleaner they trusted. It can be awkward to put yourself out there to ask, but I never had anyone refuse to answer. If you explain that you have just moved, and that finding these professionals can be a challenge, most people will respond positively.

Planning Is Essential

This may sound in conflict with the style is regional piece, but this focuses on preparation. Before you pack out your home to move overseas, you need to think through 3 lists: (1) The Things You Will Carry With You, (2) Stuff for Your Express Shipment (You will see it in a few weeks and need to be able to live with it until 3), and (3) The Slow Boat Shipment (you will see it in 3-4 months). On one of our overseas moves, the children and I were staying with my mother for 4 months while my husband was in a class across the county. That meant packing everything we needed for summer in the South, summer and fall in the Mid-Atlantic, and Winter in England. Well thought-through planning made the whole adventure far less stressful than it might have been, an continues to make travel a dawdle, rather than a stress. Pack for a two week trip in a carry-on. Give me half an hour. Let’s go!

 

Travel Light

If you saw us load up that station wagon to travel to my mother’s house for that 4 months, you wouldn’t have thought we were travelling light! I think it probably qualified as a miracle that we got 4 people’s clothing, all our homeschool materials (I forgot to throw that wrench into the works!) and some toys for the boys into the back of our Subie Wagon. If we’d tied a rocking chair to the roof, we’d have looked like the Clampett family. (Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you about the engine overheating on that trip from Georgia to North Carolina.) When it came time to fly overseas, we each had one large suitcase, and our carryon/backpack. (We shipped the school books.)  That large suitcase had to hold everything we would need for the next 3-4 months. To this day, I prefer to travel light. I rarely check baggage, even for a trip of a week or more, I’d rather wash in the sink than have to haul around a lot of luggage. If you forget something and it’s really important, you can probably find something similar where you are headed, and you’ll have a souvenir of your trip.

Go With the Flow

I may be a planner, but I have learned not to assume the plan will go as planned! It’s great to have a Plan, and even a Plan B, or Plan C, but sometimes you just have to throw it all to the wind and go with what’s right in front of you. When we lived in England, we took a Christmas holiday in London. We rented a flat, brought our tree and presents, and spent a fabulous week. It even had the courtesy to snow as we walked to Mass on Christmas Eve. One of the trip highlights was an afternoon Christmas dinner at the Savoy. Our children still fondly remember that experience 12 years later. The booking had been planned months in advance. My outfit, on the other hand for that special day was completely go-with-the-flow. I would have frozen in the dress I had brought for our special dinner, so I threw on an ankle length black-on-black plaid kilt (the one I wore to walk to Mass in) and some sweater I found in my bag. My Hero accessory was the shoulder grazing chandelier earrings that my sons (aged 16, 12 & 11) had given me that morning. (They were carefully chosen for me at Accessorize by three boys with their own meagre funds. I still have those earrings, and wore them on a Christmas holiday date with my grandson last year!) Even our waiter commented on the “unique” earrings I had on that evening… The boys were chuffed, and it was all good! It still is.

What style lessons have you learned from strange places? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories…

 

 

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Monday morning can be a challenge for anyone. Here are 10 ways to make dressing less stressing and more of a blessing,,, Just try one. And then maybe add another next week. And maybe another after that. Who knows what might happen?

1)  Lay (or hang) out your clothes for tomorrow when getting ready for bed. Check your calendar and the weather, first. (This also lets you know whether or not you need to shave in the morning!)

2)  Keep photos of outfits you love in a folder on your phone for days that you forget #1! Or make sure you have some go-to Outfit Recipes.

3)  Do your laundry before your work week begins. (No more “Arrrgh, it’s in the hamper!”) Smaller, more frequent loads are a lot easier to fold and put away.

4)  Pull together some Beauty Bundles to make accessorizing outfits easier.

5)  On your “weekend” choose a small cohesive capsule for the week, and dress out of only those clothes. Fewer choices means less stress (Try 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 toppers, and a dress.)

6)  Next time you go to the hairdresser, ask about a cut that works WITH your hair’s natural texture, rather than fighting it.

7)  Time how long it takes to do your makeup in the morning. Simplify your routine to 5 minutes, MAX!

8)  Get all the out of season clothes out of your active closet and into a storage box. If your closet has room, separate out of season from current season items.

9)  Keep a lint roller in your car; then it doesn’t matter if the dog or cat loves on you on the way out the door.

10) Limit your color palette (for any season) to two neutrals, your white, and two accent colors. Careful choices here will give you a mix and match wardrobe! Think Garanimals for grown-ups…

What other tips do you have for turning dressing stress into a blessing? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

Outfit Recipes

Outfit Recipes

Do you feel bombarded at the grocery store checkout by the magazine covers? I often do! Quick and Easy Family Meals… 30 Minute Dinners… Shortcuts to Supper… (And have you ever noticed that for every diet/slim down article, there’s a Best Dessert Ever recipe? So unfair!) Literally millions of recipe ideas at our fingertips, but we frequently default to the family favorites we cook so often that we need no recipe at all. The best are the ones that have some wiggle room for adaptation. Maybe we are out of chicken, but it works with ground beef, too. Or, we have no taco seasoning, so we swap in Italian seasoning, and serve it over pasta instead of with tortillas. These are the best kind of recipes, endlessly adaptable, and never boring! Wouldn’t the same kind of recipes for your closet be fabulous?

What’s An Outfit Recipe?

An Outfit Recipe is a dressing shortcut. The best recipes are quick, easy, and adaptable, not the ones with ingredients you can’t pronounce, let alone find at the store (in your closet). I am not talking about the black pants with the pink blouse and heart necklace, that’s too specific and gets boring very quickly. I am talking about those flexible recipes, the ones that with a little spice can keep your wardrobe feeling full of variety. Everyone has their own favorites. Mine change with the seasons, and with my activities for the day. When I was teaching in the classroom, my winter default recipe was dress+boots+cardigan+scarf. With just 3 dresses, 3 cardigans, 3 boots, and 3 scarves, you could go on for quite a while before repeating! (If they all mix and match, you have 81 outfits. That’s 4 months worth of work outfits!)

My Recent Recipes

This month I have been doing the Inside Out Style Daily Picture Challenge. Reviewing one week’s photos startled me. I wore almost the same outfit all week long, but it didn’t feel like it. My recipe that week was Column of Color + Scarf or Necklace for contrast. Some days the column was blue, other days it was white. It could be an inner column (shirt and trouser) or an outer column (trouser and jacket) but CoC + SoN 4 Contrast it was! (Maybe these should be Wardrobe Equations instead of recipes!) My apologies for the selfie… I don’t have an Instagram Husband!

Some Recipe Ideas to Try

Simple Dress + Bold Necklace + Jean Jacket + Shoes/Boots (appropriate for the season)

Slim Cropped Trouser/Jeans + Loose/Flowy Shirt + Layered Thin Necklaces + Ballet Flats

Wide Trouser/Jeans + Slim Fitting Top + Bold Necklace + Wedges

Column of Color (top and bottom of the same color) + Scarf/Necklace and Shoes (of a second color)

The great thing about recipes is their flexibility. Don’t wear trousers, sub in skirts instead! Can’t stand necklaces, sub in bracelets and earrings for interest. Scarves are too complicated? Try the necklace option! Too hot for trousers, sub in shorts!

What’s a favorite recipe that you return to again and again? Please share in the comments below!

And thank you to Katherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the Linkup!

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Fall arrives next week (weather not being a factor), so this weekend is a great time to take stock of your fall wardrobe. Often when readers see Wardrobe Audit on my list of services, they ask “Do you mean like on TV?” I always answer “Not at all! I don’t belittle you, make fun of your choices, or shove your clothes into a trash can. I help you go through what you own, determine what’s working for you, and what you need to complete your wardrobe so that it expresses your personality, fits your lifestyle (AND budget) and supports your goals.” Wow! That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it… but if your wardrobe isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to ask why isn’t it?

There are thousands of articles (and some great videos too!), about how to do a Wardrobe Audit, closet clean-out, or closet edit. (It goes by a variety of names.) The biggest reason people don’t do their own audit is finding time to commit to the task at hand, or they become overwhelmed by the emotions that examining our clothing and buying patterns can bring to the surface, so they never start. Sometimes they start, give up, and shove it all back in. Let me make this clear, a Wardrobe Audit (WA) is work, not a dawdle before heading out to a party, but it is work well worth the effort! A closet that works for you rather than against you is an ally everyone should have. Ideally, a WA should take between 3 and 4 hours, but if you have multiple closets, it may require more time.

If you are doing this on your own at home, you can do your prep work over a few days prior to the closet work. Just like when painting, good preparation makes the rest of the job easier, look better, and last longer. Prep well!

Preparation

Any Wardrobe Audit requires preparation. Take time for some self-reflection. Do a personality analysis, and a lifestyle analysis. Spend time thinking about your values. I do these three with my clients before we even think about diving into the closet; the answers to these inventories inform the choices we make in their wardrobes. For example: Is comfort key for you? If so, maybe those pointy-toed patent stilettos might need rethinking. Does your social life consist of Flix and Chill, and the last time you went to a black tie gala was in 2005? Why are there three pre-offspring ballgowns taking up your valuable closet real estate? Maybe you are a vigilante vegan, and that beautiful suede purse your grandmother gave you is hidden on the top shelf. I know… Grandma gave it to you, and it is beautiful; you can never carry it again, and getting rid of it would be wrong, right? Think of this personality, lifestyle, and value work as a roadmap to your ideal closet. Not perfect, there is no perfect!

More Preparation

Next, a little more prep work is in order. Pull out 5 items from your closet that you L.O.V.E. and that make you feel great. That’s right. Five. Take the time to look at these pieces and think about why you love them. Analyze them. Is it the color? How it makes you feel? How it feels on your skin? How it makes everything else play well together? List adjectives (grammar flashback!) that describe the pieces and how you feel when you wear them. Look at your list, are there duplicates, or words that are very similar or encompass some of the same qualities, like comfortable and cozy? Or chic and sophisticated? Determine the adjectives you used most frequently; list 3-5 of them. Look carefully at these few. Is this how you want others to see you? If so great! If not, spend some time thinking about how you want to be perceived… Add two or three of those how-I-want-to-be-perceived adjectives to your list. This short list will be a draft of your Style Recipe.

Gather Your Supplies

You may want to break your Wardrobe Audit out into two sessions, prep work one day, and closet work on another. If so, make sure you have all your supplies on hand before you start on Part 2. For the next portion, you will want a vacuum cleaner and a duster on hand. You may as well clean your closet while it’s empty! Yes, it will be empty. You will also need water, a full length mirror, and good lighting. Make sure you have two good sized boxes or bags for Give Away, and Throw Away pieces.  Last, but not least, make sure you are caught up on your laundry before you head into your closet.

Now that the prep work is done, let’s pause (For a snack? I love a snack!) before we head into your closet! If all this sounds daunting, give me a call. I’d love to help!

When was the last time you did a Wardrobe Audit? Do you spend time for analysis beforehand? I’d love to hear how you do yours. Please share your experiences in the comments below!

 

 

Closet Sabotage

Closet Sabotage

Sabotage is a funny word. It comes from an old French word for shoe. In particular, a kind of wooden shoe. Sabotage is an apt word for the malicious mischief we do to our own wardrobes (and often budgets!). When I speak of a wardrobe, I imagine a set of coordinated clothing that fits the lifestyle of the owner, expresses his or her personality, flatters, and makes the wardrobee (Yes, sometimes a new word must be invented.) happy. What are the most common acts of wardrobe sabotage? You commit wardrobe sabotage when the clothing you buy…

Doesn’t Fit YOUR Lifestyle

I see this one all the time, and have been guilty of this act of sabotage more than once! Maybe you are a new mom who lives in jeans and tees, and spends your day nursing a newborn and trying to remember what the floor looked like before it was covered in children’s toys. You find yourself trying on a darling little black cocktail dress, dry clean only. You don’t remember the last time you had a cocktail, and while you may have regular dreams about an enormous margarita, you cannot imagine when you might actually have one. The babysitter, margarita, and dress (on sale) combined would cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.  Shopping for a life you do not lead is a bad idea. The brilliant Bridgette Raes calls this “wishful wardrobing”. Now, this does not mean that you should not buy something to make a new outfit for the holidays, but maybe rather than that dry clean only LBD, you should look for a new happy-making ( and nursing friendly) washable top to wear with jeans or dress pants, to which you can add some extra sparkle for New Year’s Eve. Even if you can’t afford the sitter, you can have your party at home!

Doesn’t Fit Your Personality (or Body Shape)

I love hippie chick flowy boho dresses and tops; they look airy, carefree, and easy, but when I put them on I feel like a clown, or like I am pretending to be someone I am not. I am more comfortable in a different aesthetic, and that’s just fine. I get my boho on with jewelry, or maybe with my sandals, or a scarf. That works for me. I have learned to steer clear of the cute little gauze spaghetti strap top that would show more skin than I am comfortable with, and doesn’t cover the foundation garments the girls require. It is perfectly fine to love a look on someone else, and not feel obliged to add it to your closet. The (also brilliant) Jill Chivers talks about appreciating fashion like art or architecture. She talks about loving the Eiffel Tower, but not needing to put it in your living room. I feel that way about lots of clothes. I can love that cute little military styled jacket with the brass buttons and red trim, and not need to add it to my closet!

Doesn’t Play Well with Others

Before handing over your hard-earned money, if you cannot think of at least 3 ways to wear the item you are about to carry to the register, it may be best to leave it behind. There a few ways we commonly sidestep this guideline. Wearing that cute floral cold shoulder top with three different jeans does not count as three ways! Can you wear that top with three different bottoms? Maybe with your jeans, your black dress pants, and your casual chinos. It might be a good choice. Can you imagine wearing it in three different situations? On a play day? Or running errands? How about to work? On a date, or girls’ night out? Not every purchase will work in three different situations, but you should be able to make it work for more than one. Does the coloring work for you, and what you already own? If you are rebuilding a wardrobe from scratch, you may need to buy whole outfits; if you already have a closet full of clothes, you shouldn’t need to buy a whole outfit to make one piece work. If you do, it’s probably best left at the store.

Exception to the Situations Guideline: Workout Wear. Wear it for working out. Please. Leggings are NOT pants. I don’t care what the Spanx ads show. They are ads, with women who are paid to show off their assets. If you are being paid to show off yours, rock them, but most of us are not that woman.

Wardrobe Orphans

When we buy clothing that corresponds to one of the above acts of sabotage, those pieces often end up being wardrobe orphans: unhappy items (often with the tags still attached) that hang in your closet making you feel guilty, wasteful, and sometimes plain old foolish. Maybe it is time to do a Marie Kondo and thank the piece for the lesson it has taught you, and release it to be loved and used by someone else. Or it may just be that you need help finding ways to wear those orphans, and help them find their lost family. Those are the kind of things an Image and Wardrobe Coach can help with!

We all make mistakes, learning from them is the key! Which kind of sabotage are you most frequently guilty of? Let me know in the comments below!

Playing Saturday Share Link-Up with the lovely Catherine at Not Dressed Like Lamb